What is aspiration?

Kathleen Donohue - Ask the Parkinson's Expert

Kathleen Donohue is a speech-language pathologist who works for Boulder Community Health’s Home Care Department. She’s been a speech therapist for 30 years and has been working with people with Parkinson’s for the past ten.

In this video, Kathleen shows what a normal swallow looks like and what aspiration looks like. Aspiration is when material goes past the vocal cords, goes down toward the airway and then filters down into the lungs.

Having Parkinson’s can increase your risk for aspiration, which can lead to more serious problems such as aspiration pneumonia and pulmonary edema; so, it’s important to ensure you have a healthy swallow.

Many people with Parkinson’s don’t see the value in working with a speech therapist, especially early on in their diagnosis. However, by working with a speech therapist early and often, you can get your swallow assessed, learn exercises to either keep your swallow strong or improve your swallow if you’re aspirating and learn some strategies that will help you as your Parkinson’s progresses.

Resources

When to begin speech therapy for Parkinson’s
Strategies for addressing speech and language challenges in Parkinson’s
The value of a team of complementary therapists when you want to live well with Parkinson’s
The Parki’s Kook Atelier – Cooking with taste and function of Parkinson’s syndrome and swallowing and chewing problems

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